I am a married woman who has husband and a son. I have recently got in touch with my first ex. Well, technically we never met. I met him 20 years ago and for some reason we didn’t meet up and it has always been a void in my heart.
Recently we got in touch again, exchanging photos and started to have conversation. And the connection just got deeper and deeper. He is married with kids as well.
He talked about meeting up and I know it is a wrong thing to do. I tried two times to tell him we cannot meet and we should talk less. But somehow, we couldn’t resist talking to each other.
So my heart is torn. One part of me wants to meet him and see if there is attraction between us. Another part of me knows this is a very bad thing to do and I ought to stop.
I tried to work with my husband by communicating more. we even tried some complaint- free exercise with each other. But I still feel there is a distance or wall between us. My husband is a very loving dad, but he cares his son the most and sometimes I feel very lonely since we do not talk much.
He is also an alcoholic who needs his wine every night. I tried to persuade him to drink less and maybe we could go on a date. We haven’t had any intimacy for 2 years (ever since my son was born). Once we tried to make a date night and have sex, but I didn’t feel anything and I cried afterwards.
Please Evan, what should I do?
There’s so much wrong with this email that I’m not even sure where to begin.
First of all, I’m sorry, R. It’s awful to feel trapped in a sexless, connection-less marriage and you have my deepest sympathies. I don’t know if there were signs of your husband’s alcoholism, communication issues, or lack of libido before you got married, but all are serious obstacles to overcome to preserve your relationship.
The question is whether your relationship is worth preserving.
What you see is what you get.
I always tell clients that you can’t have a relationship dependent upon someone changing on your behalf. In other words, what you see is what you get. If you can’t accept him as he is right now (and I don’t see why you would), I have little reason to feel optimistic about your future as a couple.
Which brings me to you, R.
You just wrote a painful illustration as to why a (presumably) good person could find herself doing an objectively bad thing. You are attention-starved, affection-starved and you feel lonely within your own marriage. It’s positively suffocating and you see no easy way out.
That’s because there’s not. There’s only a hard path for anyone who makes poor relationship choices and then has to go through the painful process of divorce.
To avoid that process, you’ve made two egregious errors:
- You have made up (and bought into) a fantastical story about this married man. You call him your “ex” even though YOU’VE NEVER EVEN MET HIM. A man is not real until he’s your boyfriend. He’s hope, projection, fantasy and potential. I see why you need all of these elements in your tortured marriage, but don’t, for one second, think that this guy is your one and only. He’s just the readiest available escape hatch — a man who is equally miserable in his marriage that he’s willing to cheat as well.
- You have committed emotional adultery by engaging with this man. It’s one thing to find someone other than your spouse attractive on the Internet. It’s another to reach out to that person to supplement your marriage. (Imagine you discovered he was doing that to you!) And yet you pushed it even further: you “tried” to tell him you can’t meet, but are still communicating with him and asking me for permission to meet him.
Sorry. Permission not granted.
Tell your married fantasy man that you made a mistake going down this road and that you have to deal with your marriage first, and until then, you have to cut things off with him.
Then it’s up to you whether to try to fix your relationship or abandon it to start over.
Frankly, neither is a wrong choice.
The only thing that’s objectively wrong is what you’ve proposed as your solution.